An anonymous reader writes "After more than two weeks of bickering that made the schoolyard appear civilized, Congress has finally passed a bill to reopen the U.S. Federal Government. 'The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 81 - 18, followed by approval in the House by a vote of 285 - 144. The bill now goes to the President, who will make remarks on Thursday regarding the reopening of the federal government. ... Earlier in the day, Speaker Boehner conceded that the House would not vote to stop the Senate-negotiated agreement. In a statement, the Speaker said that, after a fight with President Obama over his signature health care law, " . . . blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us." The agreement will raise the debt limit until February 2014, fund the government through January 2014 and establish a joint House-Senate committee to make spending cut decisions.' CNN adds, 'Obama, for one, didn't seem in the mood Wednesday night for more of the same -- saying politicians in Washington have to "get out of the habit of governing by crisis." "Hopefully, next time, it will not be in the 11th hour," Obama told reporters, calling for both parties to work together on a budget, immigration reform and other issues. When asked as he left the podium whether he believed America would be going through all this political turmoil again in a few months, the President didn't waste words. "No."'"
littlesparkvt writes "Earth's most eminent emissary to Mars has just proven that those rare Martian visitors that sometimes drop in on Earth — a.k.a. Martian meteorites — really are from the Red Planet. A key new measurement of Mars' atmosphere by NASA's Curiosity rover provides the most definitive evidence yet of the origins of Mars meteorites while at the same time providing a way to rule out Martian origins of other meteorites."
An anonymous reader writes in that Google plans to support XP longer than Microsoft. "Microsoft will officially retire its Windows XP operating system early next year, but Google on Wednesday announced it will continue to support its Chrome browser for the platform through at least early 2015. The Mountain View, Calif., Web giant announced it will keep sending out updates and security patches to the Windows XP version of Google Chrome 'until at least April 2015.'"
schwit1 writes "Mark Cuban won a years-long fight with the federal government Wednesday as jurors decided that the billionaire basketball team owner did not commit insider-trading when he sold his shares in an Internet company in 2004. The jury in federal district court in Dallas said that the Securities and Exchange Commission failed to prove the key elements of its case, including the claim that Cuban agreed to keep certain information confidential and not trade on it. The nine-member jury deliberated about half a day before reaching the unanimous decision that ended the three-week trial."
An anonymous reader writes in with word of a new tool for whistleblowers: "The 'strongest-ever' whistleblowing tool for sources to speak anonymously with journalists, partly developed by the late Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz, has been launched by the Freedom of The Press Foundation. Before his suicide in January 2013, Swartz had been working on a tool for sources to anonymously submit documents to journalists online, without using traceable email and in a way that could be easily catalogued by news organisations. Called SecureDrop, the tool can be installed on any news organisation's website as a 'Contact Us' form page. But where these pages usually require a name and email address, the encrypted SecureDrop system is completely anonymous, assigning the whistleblower two unique identifiers - one seen by the journalist, and one seen by the whistleblower. These identities stay the same, so a conversation can be had without names being shared or known."
colinneagle writes "The timing for this study is interesting, given the arrests of two teenagers believed to have bullied a 12-year-old classmate until she committed suicide, but Microsoft found that 94% of parents said they allow their kids unsupervised access to at least one device or online service like email or social networks. The average age at which most children are allowed access to at least one online service, such as email or social media, was 8 years old, while 40% allow children under the age of 7 to access a computer unsupervised."
An anonymous reader writes "During my career I've always been focused on learning new technologies and trending programming languages. I've made good money at it, but I'm not sure what the next step is. I don't want to do this for the rest of my life. I'm not sure how to find a good way to transition from programmer to somebody with more responsibility. Should I learn business? It it more important to focus on personal networking? Do I step into the quagmire of marketing? I'm not sure what goals I should set, because I don't know what goals are realistic. Running my own business seems like something I'd like to do, but I'm unsure how to get from here to there. I'd appreciate advice from any fellow geeks who are making (or have made) that change."
New submitter gamersunited writes with news of Blizzard Entertainment's defeat of another company that created bot software to automate World of Warcraft characters. Ceiling Fan Software faces a judgment of $7 million, and must disable any active licenses for the software. They're also forbidden from transferring or open-sourcing the bot software, and from facilitating its continued use in any way. The court order (PDF) follows more than two years of legal wrangling. Blizzard won a similar judgment a few years ago against another bot company called MDY Industries, which created the popular Glider bot.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "If you give a mouse a cookie, you can spend all day following it around the house while it wants to do a bunch of tedious activities. Or, you can trap it in a box, keep feeding it cookies, and then make the outrageous claim that Oreos are as addictive as cocaine. Students at Connecticut College opted for the second option, and the consequences that ensued were much more annoying than making some arts and crafts with a darn mouse. Fox News reported that a 'College study finds Oreo cookies are as addictive as drugs,' Forbes explained 'Why Your Brain Treats Oreos Like a Drug,' and a ton of other sites ran with the story as well. Here's how the experiment, which has not been peer reviewed and has not been presented yet, went down. Mice were placed in a maze, with one end holding an Oreo and the other end holding a rice cake. The mice, without fail, decided to eat the Oreo over the rice cake, proving once and for all that mice like cookies better than tasteless discs with a styrofoamy texture."
Zothecula writes "Explorers have mapped the surface of the iconic Matterhorn painstakingly by foot, by satellite, and now by drone, thanks to a partnership between drone maker senseFly and nonprofit Drone Adventures. Launching a small squadron of eBee minidrones off the summit and sides of the famous Alps mountaintop, the mission tested the navigational abilities of the system and created a staggering data-rich 3D model."
mdsolar sends this news from the Associated Press: "The number of safety violations at U.S. nuclear power plants varies dramatically from region to region, pointing to inconsistent enforcement in an industry now operating mostly beyond its original 40-year licenses, according to a congressional study awaiting release. Nuclear Regulatory Commission figures cited in the Government Accountability Office report show that while the West has the fewest reactors, it had the most lower-level violations from 2000 to 2012 — more than 2½ times the Southeast's rate per reactor. The Southeast, with the most reactors of the NRC's four regions, had the fewest such violations, according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. The striking variations do not appear to reflect real differences in reactor performance. Instead, the report says, the differences suggest that regulators interpret rules and guidelines differently among regions, perhaps because lower-level violations get limited review."
benrothke writes "Narrating a compelling and interesting story about cryptography is not an easy endeavor. Many authors have tried and failed miserably; attempting to create better anecdotes about the adventure of Alice and Bob. David Kahn probably did the best job of it when wrote The Codebreakers: The story of secret writing in 1967 and set the gold standard on the information security narrative. Kahn's book was so provocative and groundbreaking that the US Government originally censored many parts of it. While Secret History: The Story of Cryptology is not as groundbreaking, it also has no government censorship. With that, the book is fascinating read that provides a combination of cryptographic history and the underlying mathematics behind it." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
cagraham writes "Mobile payment company Square — best known for their smartphone credit-card swipers — has launched a new payment service called Square Cash. The service doesn't require users to sign up or make an account. Instead, they just email the person they'd like to transfer money to (with the amount as the subject), and CC 'firstname.lastname@example.org.' Square asks the sender for their debit card info, and then sends a link to the recipient, who can transfer the money into any account they want within 1-2 business days."
the_newsbeagle writes "About four million people around the world have pacemakers implanted in their bodies, and those devices all got there the same way: surgeons sliced open their patients' shoulders and inserted the pulse-generating devices in the flesh near the heart, then attached tiny wires to the heart muscle. ... A device that just received approval in the EU seems to solve those problems. This tiny pacemaker is the first that doesn't require wires to bring the electrical signal to the heart muscle, because it's implanted inside the heart itself, and is hooked onto the inner wall of one of the heart's chambers. This is possible because the cylindrical device can be inserted and attached using a steerable catheter that's snaked up through the femoral artery."
Nerval's Lobster writes "This year's revelations about NSA surveillance have upended the idea that our data—any of it—is truly secure from prying eyes. That uncertainty has sparked the rise of several businesses with a simple proposition: you can send whatever you want via their online service (text, images, video), and that data will vaporize within seconds of the recipient opening it up. One of the most popular of those services is Snapchat, which allows users to take "Snaps" (i.e., videos or photos) that self-destruct a few seconds after the recipient opens them; that data also disappears from the company's servers. But is 'disappearing' data truly secure from prying eyes? Earlier this week, Snapchat admitted to a loophole in its schema that leaves Snaps open to viewing by law enforcement — provided the latter shows up at the company's front door with a warrant. Until a recipient opens a Snap, it's stored in the company's datacenter. In theory, law enforcement could request that Snapchat send it an unopened Snap. 'If we receive a search warrant from law enforcement for the contents of Snaps and those Snaps are still on our servers,' read an Oct. 14 posting on Snapchat's corporate blog, 'a federal law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) obliges us to produce the Snaps to the requesting law enforcement agency.' Law-enforcement entities have hit Snapchat with 'about a dozen' search warrants for unopened Snaps since May 2013. 'Law enforcement requests sometimes require us to preserve Snaps for a time, like when law enforcement is determining whether to issue a search warrant for Snaps,' the blog continued. That surveillance could also go beyond unopened Snaps: Snapchat 'Stories,' or a cluster of Snaps, live on the company's servers for up to 24 hours and can be viewed multiple times, which broadens the window for law enforcement to poke its way in."
dryriver writes "The Guardian reports: 'British Prime Minister David Cameron has encouraged a Commons select committee to investigate whether the Guardian has broken the law or damaged national security by publishing secrets leaked by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. He made his proposal in response to a question from former defense secretary Liam Fox, saying the Guardian had been guilty of double standards for exposing the scandal of phone hacking by newspapers and yet had gone on to publish secrets from the NSA taken by Snowden. Speaking at prime minister's questions on Wednesday, Cameron said: "The plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and cabinet secretary to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files. So they know that what they're dealing with is dangerous for national security."'" Destroyed their copies of some files, certainly, but it's not like others don't have the files too.
MancunianMaskMan writes "The BBC writes about the meteorite that fell from the sky 8 months ago: 'The object plunged into Lake Chebarkul in central Russia on 15 February, leaving a 6m-wide hole in the ice. Scientists say that it is the largest fragment of the meteorite yet found.'" This is one of the ten largest meteorite fragments ever recovered. Unfortunately, it broke into three pieces after being lifted from the lake, and managed to destroy the scale used to weigh it when it hit 570kg.
realized writes "Last week Slashdot covered a new vBulletin exploit. Apparently hackers have been busy since then because according to security firm Imperva, more than 35,000 sites were recently hacked via this vulnerability. The sad part about this is that it could have all been avoided if the administrator of the websites just removed the /install and/or /core/install folders – something that you would think the installer should do on its own." Web applications that have write access to directories they then load code from have always seemed a bit iffy to me (wp-content anyone?)
alphadogg writes "As it embarks on what's likely to be a long journey to its next big increase in speed, Ethernet is in some ways a victim of its own success. Years ago, birthing a new generation of Ethernet was relatively straightforward: Enterprises wanted faster LANs, vendors figured out ways to achieve that throughput and hashed out a standard, and IT shops bought the speed boost with their next computers and switches. Now it's more complicated, with carriers, Web 2.0 giants, cloud providers, and enterprises all looking for different speeds and interfaces, some more urgently than others. ... That's what the IEEE 802.3 400Gbps Study Group faces as it tries to write the next chapter in Ethernet's history. ... 'You have a lot of different people coming in to the study group,' said John D'Ambrosia, the group's chair, in an interview at the Ethernet Alliance's Technology Exploration Forum in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday. That can make it harder to reach consensus, with 75 percent approval required to ratify a standard, he said."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "TrueCrypt has been part of security-minded users' toolkits for nearly a decade — but there's one problem: no one has ever conducted a full security audit on it. Now Cyrus Farivar reports in Ars Technica that a fundraiser reached more than $16,000 in a public call to perform a full security audit on TrueCrypt. 'Lots of people use it to store very sensitive information,' writes Matthew Green, a well-known cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University. 'That includes corporate secrets and private personal information. Bruce Schneier is even using it to store information on his personal air-gapped super-laptop, after he reviews leaked NSA documents. We should be sweating bullets about the security of a piece of software like this.' According to Green, Truecrypt 'does some damned funny things that should make any (correctly) paranoid person think twice.' The Ubuntu Privacy Group says the behavior of the Windows version [of Truecrypt 7.0] is problematic. 'As it can't be ruled out that the published Windows executable of Truecrypt 7.0a is compiled from a different source code than the code published in "TrueCrypt_7.0a_Source.zip" we however can't preclude that the binary Windows package uses the header bytes after the key for a back door.' Green is one of people leading the charge to setup the audit, and he helped create the website istruecryptauditedyet.com. 'We're now in a place where we have nearly, but not quite enough to get a serious audit done.'"
sfcrazy writes "Glenn Greenwald, the thorn in the proverbial back of NSA and its colonial cousin GCHQ, is leaving the Guardian to start his own news organization. Greenwald said 'My partnership with the Guardian has been extremely fruitful and fulfilling: I have high regard for the editors and journalists with whom I worked and am incredibly proud of what we achieved. The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I was presented with a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline. Because this news leaked before we were prepared to announce it, I'm not yet able to provide any details of this momentous new venture, but it will be unveiled very shortly.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The NY Times reports on the arrests of two girls, ages 12 and 14, who allegedly harassed another 12-year-old girl who committed suicide. The girls are facing third-degree felony charges, and the police involvement was spurred by a comment on Facebook by the older of the two. 'In Internet shorthand it began "Yes, ik" — I know — "I bullied Rebecca nd she killed herself." The writer concluded that she didn't care, using an obscenity to make the point and a heart as a perverse flourish. Five weeks ago, Rebecca Ann Sedwick, a seventh grader in Lakeland in central Florida, jumped to her death from an abandoned cement factory silo after enduring a year, on and off, of face-to-face and online bullying. ... Brimming with outrage and incredulity, the sheriff said in a news conference on Tuesday that he was stunned by the older girl's Saturday Facebook posting. But he reserved his harshest words for the girl's parents for failing to monitor her behavior, after she had been questioned by the police, and for allowing her to keep her cellphone.'"
Neil Gaiman spoke Monday for the Reading Agency's annual lecture series. His talk centered on the importance of libraries and of reading for pleasure. His talk was transcribed and posted by The Guardian. Quoting: "Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it's a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it's hard, because someone's in trouble and you have to know how it's all going to end that's a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you're on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. ... The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them. I don't think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children's books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. ... It's tosh. It's snobbery and it's foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn't hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you."
New submitter mjone13 writes "Dave Feldman, in a blog posts, says that the problem Android faces is giving consumers too much choice. He cites several studies which state that consumers generally are unhappier when they have too much choice. 'Catering to all individual preferences creates a bloated, bland product. Not to mention a UI that’s impossible to navigate. Furthermore, people are notoriously bad at identifying what we want. And what we do want is influenced heavily by what we know — our expectations are constrained by our experience.' He then goes on to talk about Android fragmentation, app developer problems and bug issues. Finally he says the people who general prefer the choice Android provides are tinkers similar to gear heads who love tinkering with their car. 'I think many who extol Android’s flexibility fall into the tinkerer category, including some tech bloggers. They love all the ways they can customize their phones, not because they’re seeking some perfect setup, but because they can swap in a new launcher every week. That’s fun for them; but they’ve made the mistake of not understanding how their motivation differs from the rest of us.' Is choice really a problem for Android?" Whether it's a problem depends on what the goals are. Providing a satisfying experience to a bunch of tinkerers is a very different thing from providing a satisfying experience to the multitude of non-tinkerers who buy smartphones.
ananyo writes "Jurassic Park's iconic image of a fossilized blood-filled mosquito was thought to be fiction — until now. For the first time, researchers have identified a fossil of a female mosquito with traces of blood in its engorged abdomen. The fossilized mosquito contains molecules that provide strong evidence of blood-feeding among ancient insects back to 46 million years ago (paper abstract). The insect was found not in amber, as depicted in Jurassic Park, but in shale sediments from Montana. After 46 million years, however, any DNA would be long degraded."
Jah-Wren Ryel sends this excerpt from Ed Felten at Freedom to Tinker: "Commentators on the Lavabit case, including the judge himself, have criticized Lavabit for designing its system in a way that resisted court-ordered access to user data. They ask: If court orders are legitimate, why should we allow engineers to design services that protect users against court-ordered access? The answer is simple but subtle: There are good reasons to protect against insider attacks, and a court order is an insider attack. To see why, consider two companies, which we’ll call Lavabit and Guavabit. At Lavabit, an employee, on receiving a court order, copies user data and gives it to an outside party—in this case, the government. Meanwhile, over at Guavabit, an employee, on receiving a bribe or extortion threat from a drug cartel, copies user data and gives it to an outside party—in this case, the drug cartel. From a purely technological standpoint, these two scenarios are exactly the same: an employee copies user data and gives it to an outside party. Only two things are different: the employee’s motivation, and the destination of the data after it leaves the company."